After more than a year of uncertainty, John Wesley Harding will early next year release a new studio album backed by full band. “Adam’s Apple” is due Feb. 17 and was preceded in October by “Garden of Eden: The Fall EP.”
The quick-witted singer/songwriter — who has recorded for Rhino, Sire, Zero Hour and Mammoth — is now signed to New York-based independent label DRT, co-founded by Derek Shulman, Ron Urban and Ted Green.
“Industry veterans with their heads screwed on,” is how Harding describes the label heads to Billboard.com. Shulman, a founding member of the band Gentle Giant with a lengthy career as music business executive, was most recently president of Roadrunner Records before founding his own O.M.A. label. Urban has held senior titles at Sony and edel Entertainment, while Green headed up Sony Wonder and MaMaMedia.
“Adam’s Apple” is a revamp of “The Man With No Shadow,” a Harding album originally due in June 2002 through Mammoth before that label was shuttered and folded into Hollywood Records. The new version jumbles the running order of the previous, adds the song “Protest Protest Protest,” and deletes “Already Dead.”
“I got very bored of [‘Already Dead’],” he says. “I just didn’t like the way it ended the album. I wanted ‘Protest’ in there and I started shifting things around and I just think it suits the album better.
“Look, this is what happens when you’re sitting on a record for a year,” Harding laughs. “You think about it. Normally one doesn’t have these luxuries. And, in a sense, it’s good that one doesn’t.”
The seven-track “Garden of Eden” features the “Adam’s Apple” song “Monkey and His Cat,” as well as the outtake “Slipperly Slide to Bliss” from the same recording sessions. Rounding out the EP are recently discovered alternate versions of “Kill the Messenger,” “Hitler’s Tears,” “The Original Miss Jesus” and “Where the Bodies Are,” all from 1992’s “Why We Fight” (Sire), and “When Dreams Come True” from those recording sessions.
DRT also reissued “Why We Fight” and the 1996 Rhino album “John Wesley Harding’s New Deal,” the latter bolstered by five additional songs. The label also released retail versions of the third and fourth volumes of the artist’s self-released “Dynablob” albums, which, like last year’s solo studio set “Swings and Roundabouts,” had been sold only at his live shows and through his Web site.
Next year, Appleseed Recordings will reissue Harding’s 1988 Rhino debut, the live acoustic album “It Happened One Night,” with an additional disc. “Basically, [it’s] my first ever sessions with the Attractions to make the studio album that, in fact, we decided not to make to make the live album, which was a very bad and very interesting decision all at the same time. It’s something I’m kind of proud of and wish I hadn’t done.
“Once that comes out,” Harding muses, “every album I’ve ever made will be in print, which I think is incredible.”
Harding — who has been performing the “Shadow”/”Apple” material regularly since it was recorded — briefly toured the U.S. in October and November. Another tour with his band, the Radical Gentlemen, is being planned for soon after the new album’s release.
In addition, Little, Brown Books will publish the artist’s first book, “Misfortune,” in September. As Harding told Billboard.com last year, the story is “set in the 19th century and it’s about a boy brought up by an insane rich man as a little girl.” The first of a two-book deal, the title will appear under Harding’s given name, Wesley Stace.
Here is the “Adam’s Apple” track list:
“Nothing at All”
“Monkey and His Cat”
“Sussex Ghost Story”
“Protest Protest Protest”
“When You Smile”